Karam Thonalu | Karela Nimki | How to Make Karam Thonalu

The karela nimki is an ideal tea-time snack. It is so addictive that you start with an intention to eat just one and cannot stop at anything less than five pieces.

They are real crispy and melt- in-the mouth all at one go. I like to call the dish spicy bulbs. This recipe can be found all over the country in slightly different forms. Bengalis and North Indians call it Karela Nimki. I came across this recipe in Maharashtra and Goa also. They however like to dip the fried bulbs in sugar syrup just like the Telugu people normally do. The Telugu people call this dish Panasa Thonalu. The savoury Karela Nimki (Spicy Bulbs) and the sweet Panasa Thonalu look exactly the same. People generally feel that the ingredients and the method of preparation also may be identical. But, the savoury dish Karela Nimki requires extra amount of ghee. That is the secret to get the crispy light quality of this dish. The sweet dish Panasa Thonalu does not require extra Ghee. There are a few small but interesting details that you would like to know. Look at the Tips below!

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Ghee/ Dalda:

• The Sweet House Nimki are super crispy simply because of the Dalda (Vanaspati) that goes into the preparations!!! I have used ghee in place of Ghee. The spicy bulbs turn out much crispier if you use ghee instead of oil.

What can you use in place of Maida:

• The Spicy Bulbs are best made with Maida, which gives it a light and crispy texture. You may however replace Maida with wheat flour. Just add 2 or 3 spoonfuls of Rava (semolina) to the flour.

How to mix the dough:

• Ghee should be rubbed into the flour nicely. That is the secret to getting light textured fries. Remember to mix the flour into a tight dough adding a little water at a time. The dough should be firm like the dough you make for Poories.

Method of Pressing the dough:

• Roll out the dough into thin sheets with a generous sprinkling of dry flour. Sprinkling dry flour will prevent the Bulbs from getting stuck. Also remember to seal the edges after shaping the bulbs.

• My kitchen rolling board is large. So I have rolled the whole sheet out in one go. You may divide the dough into 3 0r 4 parts and roll out the sheets.

Method of frying:

• Put the Bulbs in very hot oil and fry on medium flame till the bulbs change colour. At this stage you know that the bulbs are cooked well on the inside also. Now you may raise the flame and fry the bulbs till nice and brown.

• If the bulbs are put in the kadai when the oil is very hot, the result will be good. Otherwise the bulbs will remain uncooked on the inside and will go soggy when cool.

Chilli Powder sprinkling on the Bulbs:

• I have used the method of the Bengalis and used a mixture of red chilli powder and black salt to sprinkle on the Bulbs while they are still very hot.

Karam Thonalu | Karela Nimki | How to Make Karam Thonalu - Recipe Video

Karam Thonalu | Karela Nimki | How to Make Karam Thonalu

Snacks | vegetarian
  • Prep Time 1 min
  • Cook Time 30 mins
  • Resting Time 10 mins
  • Total Time 41 mins


  • For the Dough:
  • 250 gms Maida
  • 50 ml Ghee
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • Water (Sufficient to make a tight dough)
  • Oil (For depp frying)
  • 1 Cup Dry Maida to sprinkle when rolling out the sheets
  • For the spicy Powder (For sprinkling on top):
  • 1/2 Cup Chilli Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Black Salt


  1. Put the Maida through a sieve and mix salt and Ghee. Rub ghee into the flour well until it becomes dry and grainy like breadcrumbs.
  2. Add water gradually and mix the flour into a firm and tight dough. Smear the dough with a little ghee and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Roll out a small portion of the dough like into a sheet as thin as you do for Poori, with a generous sprinkling of dry flour to facilitate the rolling process.
  4. Cut the sheet into square shape. Now, leaving a ¼” border on all sides, make vertical equi- distant cuts on the sheet. Roll in the square along the vertical cut marks, leaving the middle portion free. Press the edges together firmly.
  5. Roll out the rest of the dough in a similar manner. Fry the bulbs a few at a time. Remember to start frying only when the oil is very hot. Fry on medium flame until the bulbs change colour. That is when you can ensure that the bulbs are well cooked on the inside. Now raise the flame and fry till crisp and brown. Take the bulbs out onto a sieve or an open basket. (Note: When the bulbs are taken out you will find that the vertical cut parts in the middle will open out beautifully giving it the shape of a flower bud).
  6. Sprinkle the Chilli and Black Salt mixture over the bulbs and toss them around so that the topping will stick evenly to the bulbs. You can also use Curry Leaf powder as a top sprinkling alternative.

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